Debbie Norton, Jalena Bowling and Denny Glad

Debbie Norton (left), Jalena Bowling and (seated) Denny Glad (right).
Women of Achievement

for a woman who solved a glaring problem despite
widespread inertia, apathy or ignorance around her:

Debbie Norton, Jalena Bowling and Denny Glad

What if you didn’t know your birthmother? Your birthfather? Your birthsiblings? For some of us, that might seem to be an option we might momentarily enjoy. But, quickly we would realize that it is these very people who make us the unique and special individuals we are. For millions of adoptees this lack of knowledge is an emotional struggle and a physical challenge. Jalena Bowling, Denny Glad and Debbie Norton understand this feeling and have taken giant steps to help.

These three women epitomize determination. They are adult adoption activists who have achieved tremendous successes in connecting parents and their adopted children. Through a long and difficult struggle with the Tennessee State Legislature and numerous court delays, Bowling, Glad and Norton have fought for the right to know. Now, because of their efforts, thousands of birth records have been unsealed and hundreds of families have been reunited.

As Debbie Norton explained, “This is a civil-rights issue. What is more basic than the right to know who you are and where you come from? What most people take for granted, we have had to fight for.”

The final bill allowing this new freedom of information also protects those parents and adult children who truly do not wish to be contacted. By instituting a “contact veto” provision, which includes both civil and criminal penalties, this special bill has become a model for other states seeking to work through this difficult and emotional issue. Through their determination, Jalena Bowling, Denny Glad and Debbie Norton have made a difference in countless lives.


Denny Glad passed away on May 12, 2008 at age 70.